The choice to move to a new country depends on a number of parameters, including safety, infrastructure, cost of living, quality of life, education, and careers. Arguably though, for almost everyone, the ability to make a living in a new country is the first consideration. If you’re unable to find a job or earn a living in a particular country, there’s no point in thinking about it any further.Of course, when it comes to job prospects, there are numerous factors at play, and it’s difficult for the average person to fully analyze the situation from every angle. Thankfully, there are professional analysts around to make things simpler. Glassdoor Economic Research, for example, a group of economists and data scientists, conducts research on trends in the labor market, making it easier for the lay person to understand what’s going on and how to act in response. A recent report of theirs looked at 17 European countries and rated them based on eight key indicators, eventually coming up with a list that shows the best countries in which to find jobs.
Unsurprisingly, countries like the United Kingdom and Germany are in the top ten, while countries like Spain and Greece fare quite poorly. However, there are a few surprises too: Estonia, for example, is not a place where a lot of expats think to look for jobs, but the country scores extremely well, tying with Norway for the top position. Other countries that are doing better than expected include Austria and Belgium, while the Netherlands, although it is indeed in the top ten, is right at the bottom of the list. Here’s a closer look at the top ten European countries in which to find a job this year.
Estonia has the highest score in the Glassdoor report. Temporary contracts are the least common in Estonia. Such contracts here make up only 3 per cent of the total jobs in the country. Even among young workers, for whom temporary contracts are quite common in many countries, the rate in Estonia is extremely low. The rate of involuntary part-time work, which is the phenomenon of people wanting to work full-time but only being able to get part-time work, has also increased in most countries; however, once again, in Estonia it remains extremely low, at less than 2% of the total.
On the whole, employment rates in Estonia have almost completely recovered, and are now only 1% below where they were before the economic crisis. The report also looks at what it calls a “harmonized unemployment rate”, which it defines as “the proportion of the labor force that is of working age and without work, is available for work, and has taken specific steps to find work”. This is in order to have an indicator that can be consistently applied across countries, rather than the unemployment rate as defined by individual countries, which tends to vary widely in its definition. In terms of the harmonized unemployment rate as well as the rate of unemployment among young people, once again, Estonia is doing extremely well.
In general, Estonia compares favorably with the US, which the report says is “the country often taken as the benchmark for economic dynamism and job opportunities”. In fact, in terms of the change in the employment rate since the crisis, Estonia is doing much better than the US, which is yet to reach even close to pre-crisis rates. Of course, there are always other considerations when looking for a country to move to, but purely in terms of your employment situation, Estonia clearly ought to be at the top of your list.
Like we said earlier, Norway and Estonia are doing equally well overall. However, there are a few indicators on which Norway scores even better than Estonia. The harmonized unemployment rate in Norway is even lower than it is in Estonia, and it’s also the lowest among all the countries analyzed. Unemployment among youth is also lower in Norway than in Estonia. In terms of the change in the unemployment rate since the crisis, Norway is behind Estonia, but is still doing well – it’s only 2% below where it was before the crisis. Here too, like many of the countries in the report, Norway is doing even better than the US, which is still well below its pre-crisis rates.
According to the report, Norway, like the other countries in the top four, has been doing well because of the quality of its labor force, its labor market policies, and its dynamism of job creation. In addition, it has had the benefit of its oil revenues, which few other countries have. Temporary employment both in general and among young people is slightly higher in Norway than in Estonia. However, it’s still lower than most other countries, and Norway is still among the best countries in which to be young and looking for work, due to the overall rate of unemployment being low among young people. Rates of involuntary part-time work are also the lowest in Europe, with the exception of Estonia. On the whole, it’s fair to say that Norway, along with Estonia, should be your first choice if you’re looking for a job in Europe.
Although the UK places third in the Glassdoor report, it scores extremely well on most parameters, with the exception of the rate of involuntary part-time employment. With a rate of 5%, the country seems to be faring quite poorly here, at least compared most of the others in the top ten. Nonetheless, the UK has made an excellent recovery since the crisis, and unemployment rates are now only 1% below where they were beforehand. At 6%, the harmonized unemployment rate here is among the lowest in Europe. At the peak of the crisis, the unemployment rate among young people crossed 20%; now, at 17%, it’s still quite high, but it’s nearly back to the pre-crisis rate. In terms of temporary employment, both among young people and the general population, the UK is doing extremely well, and has the lowest rates in Europe with the exception of Estonia.
Although Austria is only fourth on the list, it’s among the countries that have recovered from the crisis the most strongly. In fact, it is Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – in that order – that have shown the most positive change in the employment rate since the crisis, and are doing even better than they were before it.
The harmonized unemployment rate in Austria is only around 6%, which is about the same as the UK. The youth unemployment rate is a bit higher, but it too has nearly returned to pre-crisis levels. Temporary employment among the general populace is at 9%, and although temporary employment among young people is much higher at around 35%, both are roughly the same as they were before the crisis. Rates of involuntary part-time work are extremely low, at around 3%.
In terms of returning to pre-crisis rates, Denmark has done quite poorly, and is behind even countries like France and Italy. However, when you look at the individual indicators, the country is actually doing extremely well – which of course is a reminder of how strong Denmark was before the crisis. The harmonized unemployment rate is around 7%, only a little higher than the UK, and the youth unemployment rate is around 13%, which isn’t great, but remains among the lowest in Europe. The rate of temporary employment is 9% of the total and around 21% of the young population, and involuntary part-time employment is a little under 5%.
Germany has seen considerable growth since the crisis, and in many ways is doing even better than it was before. No other country in Europe has seen such a great comeback – employment rates now are actually around 2% higher than they were before the crisis.
The harmonized unemployment rate is about 5%, and the youth unemployment rate is around 8%, which is a fair bit lower than it was before the crisis. Rates of temporary employment, both in general and among youth, are quite high, at 13% and a surprising 50% respectively. However, this is said to be largely because apprenticeships are a standard practice in Germany, and these are usually in the form of fixed-term contracts. In terms of involuntary part-time work, Germany is doing very well – the rate is a little under 4%, which is better than before the crisis.
Switzerland is the third country to have made a strong comeback since the crisis. Unemployment in Switzerland is under 5%, and among young people it is under 10%, which is roughly the same as it was before the crisis. However, like Germany, Switzerland has a problem with temporary employment – the overall rate is a rather high 13% (although this is marginally better than it was before the crisis) and among young people it is over 50%. The rate of involuntary part-time work however is under 3%, which is extremely low.
Belgium has recovered fairly well since the crisis, and employment rates are now only 1% below what they were before. The harmonized unemployment rate according to the report is around 8%. The youth unemployment rate however is still very high at almost 25%, which is in the same league as Ireland and France.
The good news however is that temporary employment contracts are relatively rare, at about 9%. As with every other country, the rate is higher among young people, but this too is only a modest 33%. The rate of involuntary part-time work is a little over 2%, and Belgium is one of the few countries where this rate hasn’t increased – in fact, it has seen a marginal improvement since 2008.
Apart from Denmark, Finland is the only country in the top ten that has not seen a particularly good recovery since the crisis. However, employment rates are only around 4% below pre-crisis rates, which isn’t exactly bad either. The harmonized unemployment rate in Finland is around 8%, which is fairly decent if seen within context. However, youth unemployment is quite high, at 20%, which makes it the worst in the top ten apart from Belgium. These are far from the worst rates in Europe, but they are still rather worrying.
The rates of temporary employment are also quite high – 16% among the general population, and 40% among the young population. The rate of involuntary part-time work, on the other hand, remains fairly low at 4%, which is only marginally higher than it was in 2008.
Netherlands is at the bottom of the top ten, scoring poorly on several indicators. In terms of recovery, the country is actually doing quite well, with the employment rate only around 2% lower than it was before the crisis. The harmonized unemployment rate is a decent 7%, and even among young people, unemployment is at only 13%. This is considerably higher than it was before the crisis, but it’s still not too bad. Similarly, the rate of involuntary part-time work is also a lot higher than it was before the crisis, but is only around 5%.
Rates of temporary employment are however quite bad – around 21% among the general population and a rather shocking 55% among the youth. However, the country seems to be recovering reasonably well on the whole, some industries are doing better than others, and as we said earlier, the decision to move depends on multiple factors – which means that the Netherlands might still be a good option for someone looking for work in Europe.